Thursday, July 14, 2011

Film Yap: Four Lions

When the first set of reviews came out for The Lincoln Lawyer, a lot of critics compared to a solid John Grisham thriller. Now Grisham in his early days was pretty good. He’d think of a fun concept and then move the plot forward in a quick, pleasant pace. Michaell Connelly isn’t like Grisham.

Connelly, aside from J.K. Rowling and Stieg Larson, may be as beloved critically as he is by the bestseller chart. All of the books I’ve read of his have incredible prose and he goes through the mystery was expertise and intelligence. He doesn’t waste time on fluffy language; he goes right into what matters. The Lincoln Lawyer was a book that launched a new character and has become the perfect gateway into his canon.

After seeing Clint Eastwood bastardize Blood Work into a lousy thriller, nobody had much hope for Matthew McConaughey to do much better with this one.

Yet, it’s pretty good. The screenplay remains surprisingly faithful to the book with its puzzle-ish plotting of the script. They fit everything together while balancing a large number of secondary characters.

McConaughey plays Mickey Heller, a lawyer who operates primarily out of his Lincoln. He drives around defending the low life criminal who are probably guilty for all of their crimes. He has enough friends to get him a big client, a playboy accused of beating a prostitute.

The plot is not necessarily about whether or not he did it. Most courtroom movies fall into that trap of making it only A or B. The movie does a good job about setting traps for its characters to the point where the trial is only part of the journey.

The cast is quite impressive which includes Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, Ryan Phillippe, (a good) John Leguizamo, Michael Peña and Bryan Cranston. Nobody is going to get an “Oscar moment” but each one brings casual expertise to the roles.

The only time the movie falters is when the filmmaker doesn’t have enough faith in the story. The cinematography is often quite lousy as they clutter the film with too many close-ups, handheld shots, or the despised 360 shots. The music choices don’t exact fit the movie, but it never distracts entirely from a very solid story.

There is a sequel to the book, The Brass Verdict, which won the prestigious Anthony Award. (It happened to have been given in Indianapolis a few years ago.) (And this critic may have been in charge of giving it out…) With the pleasant surprise of how strong McConaughey was in the role, I would love to see that book get made especially if they finally get to cast Harry Bosch.

The Blu-Ray has plenty of solid bonus features including a simple making of, a cool ride along with Connelly, and an interview between McConaughey and Connelly. There are also, of course, deleted scenes which continue to be very rarely satisfying. The Blu-Ray also has a DVD copy bare of bonus features and a digital copy.

Film: 4 Yaps

Extras: 4 Yaps

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